Today, there are hundreds and thousands of grocery stores and fast food restaurants across the United States. Some of these locations can provide a good, healthy, organic meal, but some serve processed foods with dyes and additives. The average person is unaware of what is actually in the food they eat every day. Sure, the food companies that produce these products put the ingredients on the label, but what person honestly knows what Maltodextrin is? Definitely not me, that is for sure. For many years, humans have found ways to keep their food edible for longs periods of time.
Some of the earliest preservatives and additives were salt, sugar, and vinegar. Today, scientists have created nearly four thousand chemicals to preserve, change, and manipulate the food we eat. With certain chemicals, scientists can copy the taste of natural foods, as well as the color. Some of those products that are completely made from chemicals are artificial sugars, coffee creamers, and candies. Though these products may taste amazing in our in our mouths, they might be hurting our bodies. I think food companies should not be allowed to put the amount of additives into the food they process as they do now.
I’m not sure about everyone else, but I would much rather eat a hamburger that is one hundred percent beef than, say, a McDonald’s hamburger that has been processed and has additives, fillers, and dyes that make the “meat” look brown. The steps that food companies will go through to make their processed food look presentable amazes me. If people knew what was really in that fast food hamburger I’m sure they would think twice before taking a bite out of it. The main reason food companies add chemicals to food is to expand shelf life, make food more convenient, increase nutritional value, improve flavor, and boost the appeal of their food.
Say I went to the store and bought thirty seven pounds of beef steaks. What I really just purchased is twenty six percent real beef and seventy four percent additives and fillers (Severs para 1). One of the many dangerous chemical food additives used are Nitrates. Nitrates are used in meats for visual purposes only and can be found in almost any processed meat you can think of such as lunch meats, hot dogs, sausages, burgers, and bacon (Belly Bytes para 11). According to Thomas Super, Director of Media Outreach at the American Meat Instituting, Numerous studies and experts show that processed meats are safe and nutritious and that nitrite in cured meats 1) is safe, 2) does not cause cancer, 3) actually has health benefits, 4) is naturally produced by the human body and 5 ) is found at higher levels in vegetables, fruits and water. Processed meats are a minor source of nitrite exposure. In fact, a liter of pomegranate juice, for example, contains 100 times more nitrite than a serving of cured meats. " "Saying that nitrite is "one of the most dangerous" additives is both misleading to consumers and scientifically false” (Belly Bytes para 12).
Even though nitrates are produced in the human body and are harmless with small amounts, high levels of nitrates can cause cardiovascular collapse and even death (Belly Bytes 13). Also, nitrates can be biochemically altered to form another chemical called nitrosamine, which is classified as a carcinogen, which is cancer causing agents (Belly Bytes para 15). Another dangerous chemical additive is Benzoate Preservatives, also seen as BHT, BHA, or TBHQ (Blumenthol para 11). These similar preservatives are compounds that preserve fats and prevent them from becoming rancid.
The problems with these are they can result in angioedema, asthma, dermatitis tumors, urticatia, and can affect the estrogen levels in woman and men (Blumenthol para 1). One more chemical, Bisphenol A or BPA, is not added to food, but finds its way into it. BPA is used in the making of plastic for bottles of water, food containers, and the inside linings of metal cans. BPA finds its way into food when the product stays in the plastic container for too long or when the plastic container is microwaved. When microwaved, BPA seeps out the most into food.
The problem with BPA is that it is an endocrine disruptor which can imitate estrogen. Also, BPA has been linked to having a higher rate of causing breast and prostate cancer as much as seventy five percent. While BPA is only illegal to use in baby bottles and sippy cups in the United States, other countries have outlawed BPA completely after discovering its health risks and concerns. Another big problem with food additives and preservatives is allergies. Many people think they are allergic to a certain product but in reality, they are allergic to the chemical that is put in the product.
Some of the reactions people have had were sweating, itching, breaking out in hives, diarrhea, vomiting, and many more (More para 1). The diagnosis of an allergic reaction to food additives is very difficult to pin point due to the high number of additives that are added to products. When a food additive is suspected, doctors use an allergy test called the RAST that uses skin (More para 6). There are many additives that doctors know cause allergies already. Tartrazine, or Yellow #5, has been known to cause hives, asthma and other sicknesses (More para 5).
Although, most of the allergic reactions from food additives are not fatal they still are not acceptable and should not be tolerated. Not all food additives and preservatives are harmful to the human body, however. Some can help nurture or simply do nothing at all. Some of the substances added to product that are good are vitamins A, C, and D. Vitamin D is most commonly known for being added in milk. Vitamin D helps reduce the chance of getting heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and can help in weight loss (Nordqvist para 3). Another substance that is healthy for the human body is fiber.
Fiber is added to many different types of foods. Fiber helps maintain a healthy digestive system and some types of fiber can even help in the reduction of cholesterol levels. One big example of a food product having too many additives and fillers is Taco Bell. In February, 2011, Taco Bell was sued by a California woman saying that their ground beef product was not actually beef (Sterling Para1). When the media asked Greg Creed, the President and Chief Concept Officer of Taco Bell about the law suit he replied, "At Taco Bell, we buy our beef from the same trusted brands you find in the supermarket, like Tyson Foods.
We start with 100 percent USDA-inspected beef. Then we simmer it in our proprietary blend of seasonings and spices to give our seasoned beef its signature Taco Bell taste and texture. We are proud of the quality of our beef and identify all the seasoning and spice ingredients on our website. Unfortunately, the lawyers in this case elected to sue first and ask questions later and got their "facts" absolutely wrong. We plan to take legal action for the false statements being made about our food” (Sterling Para 2).
After that statement was made, Attorney Dee Miles had Taco Bells meat tested in a lab and found it to have less than thirty five percent beef (Sterling 1). Though the law suit didn’t want money, it only asked Taco Bell to either change the name of their meat or to increase the percent of beef in the meat product. Every day people are eating food products that they don’t know what food additives they actually contain. A good way to eliminate the harm from these chemicals is knowing which ones are harmful and trying to avoid them.
To me, I just don’t see how the Food and Drug Administration allows food companies to put these chemicals in the food we eat every day. Works Cited Allen, Eve V. "How Food Additives Affect Our Health. " How Food Additives Affect Our Health. By Region, n. d. Web. 20 Sept. 2012. Blumenthal, Brett. "10 Worst Food Additives & Where They Lurk. " Healthy Green Living, Fitness & Sustainability. Gaiam Life, 2009. Web. 26 Sept. 2012. "Food Additive Facts. " Belly Bytes, Where It's All About Food. Belly Bytes, n. d. Web. 20 Sept. 2012. More, Daniel. Reactions to Food Additives And A Preservatives. " About. com Allergies. About. Com, 8 Sept. 2011. Web. 26 Sept. 2012. Nordqvist, Christian. "What Is Vitamin A? What Does Vitamin A Do? " Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 17 Mar. 2011. Web. 27 Sept. 2012. Severs, Lucy. "Processing Percentage Charts. " Custom Meat Processing Charts. Washington State Dept of Agriculture, 23 May 2012. Web. 20 Sept. 2012. Sterling, Colin. "Taco Bell Meat: Chain Sued Over 35% Beef Content In 'Taco Meat Filling' [Updated]. " The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost. com, 25 Jan. 2011. Web. 27 Sept. 2012.